Man bursts into flames after Taser strike in Western Australia

Darwin's Natural Selection in action; A MAN from a remote western desert community was last night being airlifted to a Perth hospital after he was shot by police with a Taser gun and engulfed in flames. His sister, Morinda West, said Mr Mitchell was sniffing petrol in his mother's house when police banged on the door and asked him to come out.
He eventually decided to leave and went to the front of the house with a lighter and a two-litre orange juice container full of petrol, she said. "He must have put petrol on his face, then the policeman shot him with the Taser, that's when the flames happened," she said. A police spokeswoman said a male police officer fired the Taser when Mr Mitchell ran at police with the petrol container and refused to stop when asked.
Petrol on your face and in your airways, 50,000 volts arcing across your face and body.....that'll do it. People who are against everything I think is reasonable want the issue of Tasers stopped. Seems silly to me - this fool might survive setting his face on fire but he wouldn't have survived two 9mm rounds from a Glock pistol fired into the centre of the seen mass and that's the only other option the policeman would have had. Just picture it - brain damaged loser carrying 2 litres of petrol and a lighter approaching fast in a menacing manner. Bang! bang! Bye bye!


  • Suicide by Police thwarted by timely use of taser. The copper involved also has to live with the newly acquired knowledge of fuel plus spark will result in fire, but at least he doesn’t have to go through the coronial inquest and investigation by the homicide squad that would have eventuated had he had to resort the the use of his firearm.

  • I have to disagree strongly with you here Kev, probably one of the first times….

    Two police officers I’m assuming, and one old idiot sniffing petrol, why the hell would they need tasers?

    Were these police officers dwarfs or something?

  • One report I read said he was advancing on them with lighter aflame brandishing an open fuel container – maybe they acted prudently

  • A 9mm would have cost a lot less in the long run.

  • Michael Sutcliffe

    Any option of a less-than-lethal alternative is good thing, but the issue with tasers is the conditions upon which a cop can use them. I believe at this stage a taser should only be used when a firearm would otherwise be used, but the cop has assessed they have the time to deploy the taser instead, for example, a stand off with a guy armed with a knife. The risk is that cops will use tasers to debilitate people who have shown no inclination of using extreme force but still need to be arrested, for example, an unarmed drunk guy getting rowdy.

  • Michael, Michael, Michael, tasers are the substitute for the firearm if the circumstances allow for its use. They are not as you seem to infer for use on harmless drunks, but a harmless drunk is only harmless as long as he chooses to be. Quite often they arm themselves or resort to violence. It takes quite a step to escalate to the point where lives may be at risk and that is where the justification for firearms or tasers as the case may be, arises. A standard drunk or out of control person can usually be handled with capsicum spray or in its absence an old fashioned whack in the ear or superior numbers. You seem a little far to one side of the cops and others arguement.

  • Michael Sutcliffe

    I think I agree with you Bob, but I’m not really sure what your point is. I believe the cops are a bit too ready to use tasers out of convenience rather than doing the hard work, and should only use tasers in situations where potentially lethal force would otherwise be used.

  • Michael, my point is that the guidelines laid down for use of tasers are as you would wish… that in a situation where serious injury or death is threatened, to protect themselves or those under their protection police may as a last resort use firearms to overcome the threat. Given time to make a decision to use less than lethal methods the taser is the next step down (if issued to the officer involved). In the same way that the use of a baton or firearm is regulated so is the taser, and police are accountable for misuse of their powers.

    A man running at you with a container of flammable liquid and the means to ignite it is a definite threat of serious injury or even death. The decision is a split second one and the use of the taser is probably more humane than shooting. If the officer had not been armed with the taser in this situation the other option may well have been lethal. You have to be there in the situation to appreciate the full reality of being threatened with serious injury or death and deciding within a split second how to react to it.

  • The man who was shot by the taser is now permanantly disabled and there is no evidence that he had a lighter in his hand. Now, how could have this been handled better by the Police? Maybe better training on using tasers! The numbers as stacking up on the misuse of these supposedly non leathal weapons.